Sunday, May 06, 2012

Black Sheep Sunday: Kiss Thwarts Girl's Wedding With Suspect

Source: Kokomo Daily Tribune, Kokomo, Indiana, April 4, 1925, p. 2


Same Kiss Was Also A Little Detail That Led to Hangout Of Bandit Suspects


Whereabouts A Secret - Some Mystifying Angles of Case Are Cleared Up

The fact that the arrest of Thaddeus "Ted" Skeer at Detroit Thursday, as a suspect in connection with the robbery of the South Kokomo bank, was to have been married Friday injects an element of heart interest into the daring holdup.

The girl is Miss Louise Brunner, 22 years old, whose home is at Ft. Wayne.  She was arrested at the time Skeer, Pierpont and Hayes were taken into custody but held solely as a material witness.  No charges were preferred against her.

Miss Brunner was brought to Kokomo with the prisoners but not lodged in jail.

As to her whereabouts a strange air of secrecy prevaded police headquarters today and all questions concerning the heroine of the sensational holdup were met with a reluctance that somehow managed to impart the impression that she was within easy reach of the Kokomo police and that her presence could be had on a moment's notice.

Developments in the case over night have cleared up a number of mystifying and contradictory angles respecting it.

For one thing, police have learned that Skeer did not go from Kokomo to Ft. Wayne following the robbery to arrange the wedding with his sweetheart.  On the contrary it is now believed that Skeer made the arrangements for his sweetheart to meet him in Detroit, by long-distance telephone from that city. She borrowed the money from her mother with which to make the journey.

Crooks never know what little detail may happen to work their undoing; the wisest heads cannot anticipate everything.  In the case of the Kokomo bank bandits, it was a kiss that led the police directly to their capture in Detroit.

This is the way it worked out.

With knowledge that Miss Brunner was to join her lover in Detroit, telephone wires fairly smoked Wednesday with hurry-up calls among police officers over the state to the end that she might be trailed from Ft. Wayne to the hangout of the bandits.  The tip on the lovers meeting came from Capt. Pappert of the Ft. Wayne police department to Capt. Main of the Kokomo police, who has successfully worked on the case from almost the moment of the robbery. At the time it was not possible for any member of the local department to make the trip to Ft. Wayne in time to arrive before the girl's train departed for Detroit.  C.F. Huntington, Pinkerton operative here engaged on the case, was not at local police headquarters at the time Capt. Pappert's message came in and when he showed up shortly afterwards the tip caused him to get in immediate communication with Superintendent Miller of the Indianapolis Pinkerton headquarters.  Miller told Huntington to remain in Kokomo and to arrange by telephone to have the girl shadowed.

While this was done, it was not so simple a matter as it may appear.  The police were at the disadvantage of not being able to identify the girl, while they did know her father.

At the Ft. Wayne railroad station, at 5:15 o'clock Wednesday afternoon, Miss Brunner, starting for Detroit to join her sweetheart, turned up her face to receive her father's farewell kiss.  Detectives who had been watching the father instantly knew that here was the girl they were to shadow, and the trail was taken up.

But officers did not follow Louise to Detroit.  Word was passed along to the train conductor who, in turn, carried instructions to point out the girl to detectives who would board the train at Detroit.  Arrangements were made by telephone for the train to thus met on its arrival.

Accordingly, therefore, when the train bearing the girl who looked forward to being a bride the following Friday - yesterday - arrived in the outskirts of Detroit, plainclothes men boarded it, to whom the girl was shown.

The rest was easy. Both Skeer and Pierpont met the train at Detroit.  While the sweethearts withdrew to a waiting room for a conference, Pierpont mounted guard outside, but all three of them at the time were under the surveillance of many lynx-eyed detectives.  If anything had occurred to their suspicions escape would have been impossible.

But nothing suspicious occurred.  The three basked in perfect security - so much so indeed, that Skeer, Pierpont and the girl thought nothing of it when an extra passenger, carrying a suitcase, climbed into the taxicab with them and rode to their destination.  They doubtless regarded him merely as an extra "pickup" fare.

But he wasn't.  He was a Pinkerton man, one of the number detailed to shadow the suspects to their lair.

Thus it was that a kiss, innocently bestowed in Ft. Wayne, led the police straight to the rendezvous of the men charged with the bank robbery at Kokomo.

Furthermore the same kiss was the direct means of thwarting the wedding of the girl and Skeer, arranged for Friday.


This article is another in a series of follow-up stories to the robberies of the South Kokomo State Bank by a group of robbers, led by my paternal cousin, Harry PIERPONT (1902-1934).  Harry later became famous as a member of the "Terror Gang" with John Dillinger.  These earlier robberies terrorized Indiana during 1924-25.

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